Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: In Your Hands, by Ines Pedrosa {ends 9/20}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Lisbon, November 14, 1990

Dear Jenny,

“It’s weird, you never talk about Rui,” Leonor said to me a few days ago. I said that’s why people get married: so they can talk about other things. But I remembered that’s what you used to say too. So I started listing Rui’s good qualities: the solidity of his presence, the sturdiness of his soul, the depth of his gaze, the contours of his body. My friend listened intently and said, “Sweetie, you just described a building!” Just as well. That’s my life’s work, after all: constructing buildings. Maybe it helps make up for my own missing foundation. One day I’ll go to Mozambique in search of my father’s memory.

In Your Hands by Inês Pedrosa won the 1997 Prèmio Màxima de Literatura in Portugal. It’s the first of her eighteen published books to be translated to English. The story covers the lives of three women from three generations, from 1935 to 1994. I was truly impressed by the three distinctly different stories and voices from the three women, and the author’s talent at bringing them all to life.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: In Your Hands, by Ines Pedrosa
Told from three different perspectives, this sweeping saga begins in 1935 Portugal, in the grip of Salazar’s authoritarian regime, where upper-class Jenny enters into an uncommon marriage with the beguiling António. Keeping up appearances, they host salons for the political and cultural elite. In private, Jenny, António, and his lover, Pedro, share a guarded triangle, build a profound relationship, and together raise a daughter born under the auspices of rebellion.

Thirty years later, their daughter, Camila, a photojournalist who has captured the revolutionary fervor and tragic loss of her family—and country—reminisces about a long-lost love in Southeast Africa. This memory shapes the future of her daughter, Natália, a successful architect, who begins an impassioned quest of her own. As she navigates Portugal’s complex past, Natália will discover herself in the two women whose mysteries and intimate intrigues have come to define her.

Through revealing journals, snapshots of a turbulent era, and private letters, the lives of three generations of women unfold, embracing all that has separated them and all that binds them—their strength, their secrets, and their search for love through the currents of change.

The first third of the book was Jenny’s story. Jenny married Antonio, and lived with him and his lover, Pedro. Pedro had a daughter with a woman who was active with the revolution, and the woman brought the baby (Camila) to be raised at his house. The second third of the book was about Camila, who was raised with Jenny, Antonio, and Pedro as the adults in her life. Camila’s daughter, Natalia, is the narrator of the last third of the book, through her letters written to Jenny.

While I wouldn’t call In Your Hands a page-turner by itself, in the hours since I’ve finished reading it, I’ve been thinking about Jenny, Camila, and Natalia, and the way they thought their lives were going. What they shared was their perspectives about their relationships and those around them – not necessarily specific events. They told a lot about their feelings for each other, for themselves, and for those around them.

They did discuss the politics of Portugal and some of their experiences because of the rebellion, but not having knowledge of this history did not hamper my enjoyment of their insights. Their telling of their lives was the sort of book that made me want to have a story and the talent to tell it in the same compelling manner as the author did.

Overall, I’d give In Your Hands 3 stars out of 5. The actual reading didn’t hold my interest as strongly as thinking about it later, which made it a slow read. But after finishing it, I feel like I actually knew Jenny, Camila, and Natalia.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is looking forward to her fall wardrobe of hoodies and comfy jeans soon. While she hates the thought of the impending cold, she does love fall fashions and Halloween. She's been blogging for quite a long time at


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of In Your Hands!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, September 20th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

In Your Hands, by Ines Pedrosa


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